Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Holiday Season, the Death of Campaigns, and Finding Alternatives

I was expecting a stronger reaction when I announced to the group that I would not be starting any RPG campaigns until next year. Instead, I got sage nods and knowing looks. November and December is a hard time for long-term games here in the United States. The demands of family during Thanksgiving and Christmas, the shopping season, the disruption of the New Year, not to mention things like religious observances, all work to make a mockery of scheduling. New campaigns die stillborn as GMs cannot find the time to sit down and work out their ideas. Established campaigns wither away as attention wonders and interest declines. Even non-RPG gamers have a rough time. It's tough to convince people to join in your multi-week wargaming campaign when the Day of the Turkey is just around the corner.

But the holidays don't have to be a hiatus from gaming. There are ways around the issue. A willingness to work with less and accept certain limitations can go a long way.

Time is the biggest limiting factor. Not only will there be fewer gaming sessions, but those sessions may tend to be shorter. 4+ hour games of any sort might take too long to finish. All day gaming is probably right out for most of us. Shoot for something lighter and faster. Write a quick one-shot RPG adventure with per-generated characters. Seven Wonders is one example of a board game that doesn't take long to play. Work out a small scale miniatures scenario with strictly limited numbers and objectives. Not every game has to be an epic tale. Aim for something short, sharp, and satisfying enough to last until January.

Outside of actual playtime, there is plenty to be done with the little bits of time that can be found here and there. There might be game books waiting on the shelves for a good perusing. Those miniatures won't assemble and paint themselves. That oft-delayed terrain project might be a good distraction from the pressures of the holidays. And it might be a good time to plan those campaigns that will get started early next year. Down time is a good time for things that tend to get pushed back otherwise.

If nothing else, there's always looking forward to the gaming goodies from understanding relatives. Or, failing that, planning on how to get the most bang out of the gift certificates and cash from relations who don't quite get the gaming hobby.

And if that doesn't work out. Well, there's always next year.

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